Top Traditional Korean Dishes
Korea's traditional food culture
As more people begin to turn toward healthier eating, kimchi has been growing in popularity the world over. Because of such increasing demand, this article will focus on ten popular Korean dishes.
Korea's traditional dishes include kimchi, bibimbap, traditional royal Korean dishes, galbi, bulgogi, samgyeopsal, samgyetang, naengmyeon, seafood and tteokbokki.
Undoubtedly, one of the most recognizable images of Korea would have to be kimchi. A fermented dish that is always served at every Korean table, kimchi is a health food that is quickly gaining worldwide popularity. Made with spicy red peppers, there are a surprising number of kimchi varieties available. There are also many dishes made with kimchi such as kimchijjigae,kimchijeon, and kimchibokkeum, to name just a few.
How to Enjoy: Since kimchi is only a side dish, it is meant to compliment the meal rather than be eaten on its own. Whether it is with rice or another dish, kimchi is a tasty addition to the table.
Bibimbap is another representative dish that truly represents Korean dining. Served with grilled meats and a variety of vegetables atop white rice, it is then mixed with either red pepper paste or some other distinctive form of marinade.
Not only is the bibimbap a great-tasting health food, but it is also very simple to make and to eat, which has allowed this dish to gain popularity as it being served on airlines. Though the Jeonju region is known to be the home of the bibimbap, there are also many reputable restaurants in Seoul as well.
How to Enjoy: Use your chopsticks to mix the red pepper paste thoroughly with the rice, then, eat with a spoon, along with the available choices of side dishes.
3. Traditional Korean Dishes of the Royalty
Korean royal cuisines are dishes strictly prepared by experienced chefs with recipes passed down by previous generations, boasting healthy ingredients, artistic decorations, and of course, truly unique flavoring. Korean royal cuisine was served to the nobility at the palace feasts, then, the nobility introduced these dishes to the general citizens, hence beginning the Korean food cultures. If you have some money to spare, we recommend that you try Korean royal cuisines, since it allows you to truly experience many areas of Korea's traditional food culture.
How to Enjoy: Since there are a great number of dishes that will be served with the meal, it is a good idea to ask the waiter how to sample the dishes. Most waiters are very friendly, and will happily provide detailed answers for their guests.
Of all the popular Korean meat dishes, includingsamgyeopsal and bulgogi, galbi remains a best seller. Preparations call for the meat to be cut into strips, 7cm in length, and 1cm in diameter, and left to sit in a marinade made from green onions, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, sesame seed salt, and black pepper. The meat is then left to grill on medium to high heat to sear in the flavors. Due to the effort in preparing galbi, prices are quite high and most households only eat the special meat on special occasions such as birthdays, or when dining out.
How to Enjoy: The best way to enjoy galbi is to eat it while cooking it on the spot, while cutting the meat into comfortable slices to be eaten with a chopstick in one bite, then eat the last remains of the meat on the bones by picking up the ribs with your hands.
Bulgogi is either prepared using beef or pork marinated in soy sauce, honey (or sugar), green onions, garlic, sesame seed salt, and black pepper, and grilled to perfection. The meat is generally sweet and tender, making it a popular dish amongst children as well. The dish is also very easy to make at home.
How to Enjoy: The meat is very well marinated, so it is often eaten with rice. However, there are times when bulgogi is eaten by itself.
The belly region of the pork where the meat and fat are layered into 3 parts is calledsamgyeopsal. Its popularity in Korea is remarkable, as Korea consumes the mostsamgyeopsal in the world, with the country often having to import samgyeopsal in order to meet the hunger of the citizens. Samgyeopsal is best enjoyed grilled and wrapped in fresh vegetables. The dish is especially popular amongst men who compliment the meat with a bottle of Korea's alcoholic beverage, soju, and is often enjoyed during the late evening.
How to Enjoy: Thoroughly cook the samgyeopsal, then wrap the meat in lettuce along with the vegetables of your choice including garlic, kimchi, green peppers, and more. You may also eat the meat alone with a sauce of your choice as well.
When preparing samgyetang, thoroughly cleanse a baby chicken. Then, after stuffing the stomach with ginseng, milk vetch, jujubes, and glutinous rice, cook in lightly salted boiling water. This is an extremely popular health food especially during the summertime, where Koreans sought out for the dish during the hottest days of the summer in July and August, in order to revitalize their strength. During these periods, lines will gather in front of Samgyetang restaurants, so be ready to wait in line.
How to Enjoy: Use your chopsticks to rip off pieces of the chicken and dip it in salt before eating. Then, use your spoon to dig out the glutinous rice from the belly and eat it with the soup. You do not have to eat the ginseng inside the Samgyetang, as all of the nutrients have already been boiled into the soup. If you feel that the Samgyetang is still bland after taking a taste of the dish, add a little salt and pepper.
Buckwheat flower is lightly mixed with starch when preparing the noodles fornaengmyeon, then put in a bowl of chilled beef broth along with thinly sliced meat, cucumbers, pear, boiled eggs, and other various vegetables. The mul- naengmyeondescribed above is the most common type ofnaengmyeon, but the spicy tastes of thebibim-naengmyeon made with red pepper paste is another favorite. If you add raw flatfish to the bibim-naengmyeon, the dish becomes hoe-naengmyeong, and if you switch the beef broth of the mul-naengmyeon to a radish broth, it becomes dongchimi-naengmyeon. In the past, the chilled naengmyeon was eaten during the winter, but now, the dish is most commonly enjoyed during the summer.
How to Enjoy: Cut the noodles with a pair of scissors, then mix the noodles into the broth with your chopsticks and eat with the other ingredients in the bowl, while sipping on the broth from time to time. The mul-naengmyeon is typically served with a side of vinegar and mustard sauce, where you may add to your liking. When trying bibim-naengmyeon, mix the noodles thoroughly with the sauce and enjoy. The broth accompanying the bibim-naengmyeon is the broth used in mul-naengmyeon, for you to eat along with the bibim-naengmyeon.
9. Traditional Seafood Dishes
Three sides of the Korean peninsula is surrounded by water, making it logical that Korea's seafood dishes have been well developed. A few of Korea's most favorite seafood dishes include the haemulpajeon, a pan-fried dish prepared by mixing green onions and vegetables into a flour mix made with flour, eggs, and water, then fried to perfection; Hoe, a Korean raw fish delicacy; and maeuntang, a stew made with fish leftover from the hoe. The haemulpajeon is popular as a snack amongst children, or as a side dish eaten with dongdongju, an alcoholic beverage, enjoyed by adults.
Tteok, or rice cakes, is a tasty snack enjoyed by most Koreans just as cake is enjoyed by Westerners. Rice is the main ingredient, then complimented with various ingredients such as grains, pine nuts, chestnuts, jujubes, fruits, sagebrush, wild aster, and other vegetables to make a diverse variety of rice cakes. It's quite enjoyable choosing from a selection of over 100 different kinds of rice cakes to eat. In the past, rice cakes were never left out on birthdays, large feasts, or religious rituals.
Today, rice cakes are available at rice cake stores, at nearby markets, or even at rice cake cafes. Rice cake cafes serve beautifully decorated rice cakes that are almost too exquisite to eat, so if you decide to visit Korea, treat yourself to one of Korea's most traditional snacks.
For pictures and more detailed information, visit the Official Korea Tourism Website at: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/
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